It was, by many measures, the most important and impressive performance by the Windjammers in the history of Camden Hills Regional High School’s brief varsity football program.

Not because the Windjammers turned in their best overall effort on offense, defense or special teams, but because Camden Hills hit the road to play a talented opponent on its home field in a must-win situation to keep hopes of hosting a playoff game alive. And the Windjammers forged a tough one-point win.

That was the scenario that played out on a cold, windy Saturday night on Dennis Bryant Field as Camden Hills pulled out a 15-14 victory over Belfast. It was the final regular-season game for both Midcoast high school gridiron teams.

Both the Windjammers and Lions have secured playoff spots in Eastern Class B and Saturday’s game probably determined which would host the other in a first-round postseason game.

The standings in Eastern Class B show: Leavitt of Turner 8-0, 143.7500 Crabtree Points; Hampden Academy 7-1, 129.6875; Gardiner, 6-2, 117.1875; Camden Hills, 4-4, 103.1250 points; Belfast, 4-4, 101.5625; Mount Desert Island, 4-4, 93.7500; Waterville, 3-5, 89.0625; Morse, 2-6, 84.3750; Winslow, 2-6, 78.1250; and Nokomis of Newport, 0-8, 59.3750.

The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs, which would mean Camden Hills will host Belfast in a first-round playoff game, probably Saturday, Oct. 30, time to be determined.

Camden Hills enjoyed a remarkable week on the gridiron, beating playoff-caliber opponents in close games just a few days apart. The Windjammers defeated visiting MDI 33-29 Oct. 18 and then bounced back to upend host Belfast 15-14 Oct. 23.

“This was a great win against a playoff-caliber Belfast team, which followed up our Monday win against playoff-bound MDI,” said Windjammer coach Linwood Downs. “Our offense was productive in controlling the ball, while our defense in the second half was excellent; it really stepped up and won the game for us.

On Saturday night, Lani Eversage got the Lions on the board in the first quarter with a 78-yard touchdown run before the Windjammers bounced back as Jacob Powers reached paydirt on a seven-yard run for Camden Hills in the same quarter. Ian Nason added the extra-point kick to give the visitors a 7-6 cushion.

It appeared the hosts had grabbed the momentum late in the second quarter as quarterback Brad Reed hit freshman Mike McFadden in the corner of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining. Eversage converted the two-point run to give Belfast a 14-7 edge heading into halftime.

With the late first-half momentum and getting the ball back to start of the second half, it appeared the Lions were in good shape. However, Camden Hills’ defense forced a fumble near midfield about a minute into the third quarter.

The Windjammers then took advantage as Adam Landwehr hit Dakota Summers for a beautiful 29-yard sideline pass to get Camden Hills’ winning scoring drive started. Powers, who again turned in yeoman work carrying the ball for the Windjammers, high-stepped his way into the end zone from 16 yards with 8:42 left in the third quarter to bring the visitors within 14-13.

Camden Hills scored the two crucial — and ultimately winning — points when it faked an extra-point kick attempt and Landwehr passed to Summers to make it 15-14.

A defensive battle ensued the rest of the way with both teams knocking on the door of the end zone, but untimely fumbles and penalties hurt the squads chances of adding more points to the scoreboard.

“We started the game off strong in the first two drives, but then really bogged down in the second quarter as Belfast did a good job of taking advantage of our mistakes,” said coach Downs. “We regrouped at halftime, scored on our first possession. Adam had a nice pass to Dakota Summers for [a] conversion. The rest of the game was a defensive game. Our defense caused a number of turnovers, while our offense moved the ball enough to be able to help the field position game.”

Powers carried the ball 30 times for 159 yards and two scores. “The 16-yard touchdown run was just a determined effort by Jake,” coach Downs said. “He is a top back in the conference, he has [more than] 1,400 yards rushing this season, and the line has done an excellent job of opening holes for him all season. Adam and Alex [Crans] did a solid job splitting the quarterback duties, and Dakota Summers made a clutch catch along the sideline to help keep our third-quarter scoring drive alive.”

On defense, the Windjammer seniors carried the day. Jake Halberg, Landwehr, Taylor Harrison, Powers and Owen Mahan “had a solid game stopping the run, while Max Niles and Chris Bryant were strong in coverage,” the coach said.

Downs added that “special teams helped us in the field position game, as the kickoff coverage team did a good job and Ian Nason [had] some deep kicks.”

Downs said four regular-season victories and being able to host a playoff game is showing that the Windjammer program is quickly making progress. “It’s a great testament to the kids and their efforts that we started the week in seventh place, trying to reverse a three-game losing streak, which included that three-point loss at Gardiner,” Down said. “But the kids never slacked, they continued to work hard, and earned their place in the playoffs. Our kids are not satisfied, so we’re hoping for another great effort this week. Everyone has the same record now, so it all comes down to who plays best on game day. We’re excited about our opportunity.”

Statistics

Offensively for Camden Hills, which had 25 first downs, completed 6-of-13 passes for 74 yards and rushed 52 times for 228 yards, Powers finished with 30 carries for 159 yards (a long of 28 yards), Landwehr 10 carries for 42 yards and Crans 12 carries for 27 yards, both with longs of 12 yards. Passing, Landwehr finished 5-of-11 for 62 yards and Crans 1-of-2 for 12 yards. Summers caught one pass for 29 yards, Halberg three for 29 yards and Powers one for 15.

Defensively, the leaders were Crans (2 solo tackles), Powers (6 solos, 2 assisted tackles, fumble recovery), Landwehr (7 solos, assist, fumble recovery), Halberg (7 solos, 2 assists, fumble recovery), Chris Bryant (solo, interception), Brandon Graffam (2 solos), Mahan (3 solos, assist), Alex Sweitzer (2 solos), Harrison (5 solos, assist), Niles (3 solos, assist) and Alex Bryant (2 solos).

Mahan had four punts for 73 yards, including a long of 26 yards.

Offensively for Belfast, which had 11 first downs, Reed completed 4-of-9 passes for 39 yards with one touchdown. Eversage rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries, while Dylan Webster (11 rushes, 79 yards), Reed (9 carries, 21 yards) and Jake Campbell (1 rush, 8 yards) also contributed on the ground. Eversage also made two catches for 14 yards, while Webster had a 16-yard grab and McFadden a 9-yard TD catch.

Village NetMedia Regional Editor/Sports Director Ken Waltz can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at kwaltz@villagesoup.com.